The Center for Civil Communications has published the second, updated issue of the “Recommendations for Easier Access of Microenterprises to Public Procurements”.
Recommendations put forward in this document are not aimed to change the legislation; on the contrary, they aim to promote existing rules that govern public procurements which, if adequately implemented in the practice, will contribute to attainment of the overall goal: easier access of small- and microenterprises to the public procurement market and revival of local economies throughout the country.
The recommendations were first published two years ago, in February 2013.First and foremost, recommendations are drafted on the basis of insights obtained as part of regular monitoring of public procurements in the Republic of Macedonia, analysis of relevant national legislation on public procurements in Macedonia, Code of Best Practices in Opening Public Procurements for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises published by the European Commission, as well as comprehensive research of practices applied by contracting authorities and experiences of microenterprises in relation to public procurements organized in the country.
All these demonstrated insufficient participation in public procurements, especially in terms of the value of tender procedures awarded to small- and microenterprises. Presence of microenterprises on the public procurement market is low and disproportional to the total number of such enterprises, their importance and their role in the local communities, but also in the overall economy. Research studies showed that these enterprises are facing lack of information about public procurements, ignorance of relevant legislation and manner in which public procurements are implemented, insufficient trust in pubic procurements, as well as series of administrative and other barriers in the practice related to implementation of public procurements.
Having considered this problem, several years ago the European Union proposed a package of recommendations addressed to contracting authorities at EU level, including specific measures that should be taken with a view to enable easier access to public procurements for smaller enterprises. All these constituted another reason for taking specific measures aimed at easier access of microenterprises to public procurements in Macedonia, with actions targeting both sides. On one side, training session, regular information dissemination, day-to-day assistance and consultations for preparation of bids and participation in tender procedures were provided for the purpose of capacity-building for microenterprises to enter the public procurement market, while, on the other hand, addressing contracting authorities with recommendations and workshops for the purpose of reducing administrative and other barriers to greater participation of microenterprises in public procurements.
In the meantime, in 2014 the EU reformed its regulations on public procurements, in particular by complementing its Directives on Public Procurements, primarily with provisions that imply easier access of small- and microenterprises to public procurements, thereby somehow translating their previously issued recommendations into legal solutions.
In Macedonia as well, a series of thorough changes have been made to the relevant legislation on public procurements. The basic Law on Public Procurements was subject to amendments on several occasions, inter alia, with a series of provisions from recommendations put forwards with a view to enable easier access of microenterprises to public procurements. For example, those recommendations included free-of-charge publication of tender documents together with procurement notices, recommendation on avoiding requirements on bank guarantees for bids submitted in procurement procedures within the lowest value brackets and part of the recommendation on setting proportional eligibility criteria for tender participation.
In addition, monitoring the implementation of recommendations on the part of contracting authorities revealed certain improvements in regard to implementation of other recommendations (for example, setting reasonable deadlines for companies to prepare and submit their bids), but there is still room for further improvements aimed at enabling greater participation of small- and microenterprises in public procurements, following the example set by EU member-states and in compliance with indications made by microenterprises themselves.
This has imposed the need to revise previously drafted recommendations and the need to amend and update recommendations that have already become legal obligations, notably for the purpose of reaffirming enforcement of recommendations that have not been adherently implemented on the part of contracting authorities and for the purpose of complementing them with a new set of recommendations that emerged as necessary in the analysis of relevant legislation and practices related to implementation of public procurements.
Recommendations are structured in the following manner:
1. Expected results from recommendation’s implementation in the practice, both on the part of microenterprises and on the part of contracting authorities.
2. Reference to specific provisions from the relevant legislation (LPP or bylaws) that enable implementation of recommendations, i.e. confirm they are legally based.
3. Elaboration of recommendations by means of providing description of the problem, i.e. the issue addressed by the recommendation in question, manner in which the recommendation should be implemented in the practice and benefits from its implementation.
This document and recommendations contained therein are primarily addressed to contracting authorities. Nevertheless, they should be made due consideration of and should be applied also by microenterprises, as some recommendations are addressing them directly.
Recommendations have been drafted and proposed as part of USAID’s Project on Access of Microenterprises to Public Procurements, whose overall goal is to facilitate access of small- and microenterprises to the public procurement market, thus contributing to their sustainable development and better utilization of their potentials for job-creation, growth and innovations. On the other hand, the project should enable contracting authorities to attain lower prices and better quality of their respective public procurements. The project is implemented in 35 municipalities in the East, Vardar, North-East and South East regions.